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Much Ado About A Lot!

I say public relations can be a matter of survival for your organization.

So, to me, making your business a success is a lot over which to raise much ado!

Especially when the very people who hold your future in their hands - your key, target audiences - may harbor negative perceptions likely to hurt you by turning into negative behaviors.

Needn't happen.

In the first place, you should already be monitoring those potentially damaging perceptions by regularly interacting with those important publics. Why let them stew until they boil over?

By letting that kind of personal opinion monitoring identify what's on the minds of those important people, you can decide on a specific behavior you wish to see come about, one that flows from a specific perception.

Progress!! You've just set your public relations goal - create a specific behavior from an equally specific perception.

Let's try it out! To do so, you need a strategy to implement that goal. Fortunately, we have just three strategies from which to choose: create opinion (perceptions) if none already exist, change existing opinion, or reinforce it.

Let's decide to "create opinion." First step: we need to prepare a persuasive message. It will be designed to create awareness of your products and services among your key, target audience. Or it might explain your position on a con- tentious issue with which some members of your target audience disagree.

Now make sure the message is focused on their perceptions; that it carefully explains the facts as you see them; and that the message is believable. Read it to a colleague to check that it meets these persuasion tests.

Now, how do you get this persuasive message over which you have worked so hard, into the consciousness of those folks who make up your key, target audience?

You use our tried and tested "beasts of burden," communications tactics designed to carry messages to the right ears and eyeballs. Luckily you have a basketful at your disposal. Speeches, emailings, news releases, personal meetings, editorial board interviews, special events and scores of others.

Are we succeeding in moving opinion among our target audience in our direction?

We'll never know if the effort is succeeding unless we regularly monitor the changing perceptions and behaviors of that #1 target audience. First, we want to know if our message was received, then how many remember seeing or hearing it, and then how many can recall its content, our message!

Finally, what we need to see is the perceptions and behaviors - i.e., opinions - of the target public moving in our direction. When we do, we can say with assurance that our public relations program is succeeding.

Please feel free to publish this article and resource box in your ezine, newsletter, offline publication or website. A copy would be appreciated at

Robert A. Kelly 2003.

Bob Kelly counsels, writes and speaks to business, non-profit and association managers about using the fundamental premise of public relations to achieve their operating objectives. He has been DPR, Pepsi-Cola Co.; AGM-PR, Texaco Inc.; VP-PR, Olin Corp.; VP-PR, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co.; director of communications, U.S. Department of the Interior, and deputy assistant press secretary, The White House. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Columbia University, major in public relations.



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